Public eye clinics which were cancelled last month at University Hospital Galway due to a nursing shortage are to resume.
Health Minister Dr James Reilly has agreed to sanction the appointment of an ophthalmic nurse in Galway to allow them to go ahead.
The clinics for the treatment and monitoring of eye diseases were suspended following the retirement of nursing staff from the hospital’s ophthalmology department under the incentivised retirement scheme earlier this year. They could not be replaced due to the ongoing moratorium on recruitment in the public sector.
However, Galway West TD Brian Walsh raised the matter in the Dáil recently and called on the Minister to lift the ban saying the suspension of clinics posed a risk to patients who relied on them for continual check-ups and treatment.
Certain potentially serious eye diseases such as glaucoma have to be monitored on a regular basis. Early intervention can be crucial in detecting and treating degenerative eye disorders and diseases, he stated.
“We had an untenable situation whereby public patients who required regular attention were being turned away as a result of the retirements,” said the Fine Gael TD.
“But Minister Reilly has previously demonstrated common sense and flexibility in his approach to such circumstances in Galway and I was confident that he would see the merit in my request.
“I am pleased that approval has now been granted in respect of the recruitment of an ophthalmic nurse so that the eye clinics can be resumed as quickly as possible.”
The position is currently being offered to candidates on the national panel, he outlined. If any of them is interested in the post, the formal process of contracting will begin with the Health Service Executive. It is expected that the successful candidate will be in place as early as next month.
Deputy Walsh said the Minister had previously acceded to his requests to lift the recruitment moratorium in respect of both theatre nurses at UHG and nursing staff at the orthopaedic department at Merlin Park Hospital.
He added that the Minister’s pragmatic approach had demonstrated common sense in circumstances of genuine concern, and an appreciation and knowledge of the situation on the frontline.